In what has seemed to be a trend around the six-county area, powerhouse football teams are having trouble finding filler games for their schedule. For the second straight year the Patrick Henry Patriots (6-2) will travel on Saturday to face an opponent, this time the Belmont Bison, to fill a hole in their schedule.
But who is Belmont?
The Bison (5-3) are a member of the Dayton City League and play every one of their games at Welcome Stadium, home of the Dayton Flyers. Belmont has only one Friday night game, the rest are all on Thursday or Saturday.
"It was very difficult to find a game for week nine and they (Belmont) had an opening," explained Patriot coach Bill Inselmann. "We felt that it would possibly be a good matchup for us. One thing we also liked was the chance to play at Dayton's Welcome Stadium on turf. Last year we played at Eastern Michigan in the Michigan Classic and really enjoyed it, so I thought the kids could have a really neat experience on turf again."
To say that Belmont plays in a tough league would be an understatement as the Bison face perennial playoff contenders Thurgood Marshall, Dunbar and Meadowdale every season. But the Bison are off to a good start in 2011, in fact, their best in 43 years, since the 1968 season.
Much of that success results from a dominating rushing attack, averaging nearly 300 yards a game on the ground.
"They're run out of the I-formation," stated Inselmann. "Their fullbacks keep you honest with straight dives, but they really like to feature their tailback (Tyshawn Gordon). He has 1,300 yards already and is very athletic and quick. They also feature their quarterback (Delmarco Scales) a lot. They do a lot of things that we would call quarterback dives or follows where he will go right behind the fullback. They keep you very honest and mix it up well with their offense."
Gordon is Belmont's leading rusher averaging nearly 11 yards a touch and 186 yards a game with 13 touchdowns. While the Bison don't have a dominant passing game, they utilize their signal-caller Scales, in the running attack. He is the second leading rusher for the Bison with 367 yards and four touchdowns.
"To be honest, when you think of a running team, you think ball control," explained Inselmann. "They obviously have that ability, but what really worries me about Belmont is its big-play capability. They have the type of athletes that can find a seam and go the distance."
While their running attack gets most of the attention, Inselmann believes Belmont's best feature is its defense.
"Actually, I think their defense is the strength of their team," he said. "I like their defensive front and they have athletes in their secondary. Their defense is a formidable one. We're going to have to take care of the ball and block well."
Belmont has held opponents to 20 points a game on average, while picking up nearly three sacks per contest. Gordon leads the Bison defense with 64 tackles and three interceptions while drawing attention from Division I programs Michigan, Wisconsin and Syracuse.
That defense will be tested as the Patriots bring a balanced attack to the game behind quarterback Anderson Okuley who has completed 38 passes for 681 yards and four touchdowns while rushing 48 times for 212 yards and two scores. Lucas Rosebrook leads all rushers for PH with 677 yards on 93 carries while scoring 17 touchdowns, with Kyle Bergstedt leading the receiving corps with 19 catches for 342 yards and two scores.
Rosebrook and Keith Palmer anchor the defense with 45 tackles each, while Jake Carrizales has 37.
The two teams will face each other on Saturday at Welcome Stadium in Dayton at 7:30 p.m.
"What's really interesting, they never play on grass," concluded Inselmann. "Talking to their coach (John Derr), he is excited about coming up here next year to play on grass and all we are thinking about is playing on turf. It's just a neat experience for our kids to play in a college venue, the locker rooms … it's something new and different."